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Top 10 New Species - 2012

In celebration of our 5th anniversary of the Top 10 New Species, the IISE presents some of the best species officially described in 2011. As with every year, we consider all of these species to be equally exciting and engaging - as such, there is no ranked order; no firstborns, no middle children and definitely no one bringing up the rear. Please click on the links below for more details about this year's Top 10 and enjoy!

Banded Box Jely Nematode Orchid  Teensy Wasp
1. a snub-nosed monkey from Myanmar (Burma)that sneezes when it rains 2. a banded box jelly that's so cool-looking that people exclaim "oh boy!" when they see it (or when they're stung!) 3. a nematode from one of earth's deepest gold mines that survives the temperatures and pressures of living almost a mile below the planet's surface 4. the first night-blooming orchid to be described and grows in a primeval tropical forest 5. a teensy wasp that attacks desert antsto layits eggsin less than 0.05 seconds

Mushroom Yellow Poppy Millipede Walking Cactuc Beaultiful Animal
6. a new mushroom that can be squeezed like a sponge with an uncanny resemblance to a popular cartoon character 7. a yellow poppy that blooms in the autumn monsoon season and can only be reached by hiking miles into the Himalayan wilderness

8. a millipede that's SO big it looks like a sausage

9. an ancient, spiny creature nicknamed the "walking cactus" that may have used its bristly legs to capture prey 10. a breathtakingly beautiful and blue tarantula that may be at risk due to habitat loss and exploitation by the pet trade

Map of Species

How are the Top 10 New Species Selected?

Each year, the IISE’s international committee of taxon experts evaluates the hundreds of new species that have been nominated by the public, IISE staff, scientists, scientific journal editors and by the committee members themselves. Chaired by Dr. Mary Liz Jameson, the 2012 Top 10 International Committee represents decades of experience and scientific expertise across the animals, plants and microbes. The Committee has complete freedom in determining each year’s Top 10 New Species but endeavors to provide a breadth of species attributes, importance and world-wide interest. With over 18,000 new species officially described each year, it is a daunting task and the IISE is extremely grateful for the Committee’s volunteerism and commitment in bringing attention to species exploration, conservation, biodiveristy and taxonomy. In alphabetical order, this year’s committee included:

  • Dr. Philippe Bouchet, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, France
  • Dr. Meg Daly, Ohio State University, USA
  • Chair, Dr. Mary Liz Jameson, Wichita State University, USA
  • Dr. Peter Kämpfer, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany
  • Dr. Niels Kristensen, Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dr. James Macklin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Dr. Ellinor Michel, Natural History Museum, London, UK
  • Dr. John Noyes, Natural History Museum, London, UK
  • Dr. Alan Paton, International Plant Names Index and Royal Botanical Garden Kew, UK
  • Dr. Andrew Polaszek, Natural History Museum, London, UK
  • Dr. Marcelo Rodrigues de Carvalho, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Dr. Gideon Smith, South African National Biodiversity Institute
  • Dr. Antonio Valdecasas, Museo National Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain
  • Dr. Zhi-Qiang Zhang, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, New Zealand